Though most of the major dominoes of 2019 Free Agency have fallen — Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Jimmy Butler to name a few — there are several great pieces remaining. In fact, arguably the best player in the league has still yet to choose a team. All eyes are on these remaining free agents, as predictions of their destinations flood the internet.
Predicting Free Agency Landing Spots for the Top-Five Available Players
5. Kelly Oubre Jr. – Phoenix Suns
All signs point to Kelly Oubre Jr. staying put with the Phoenix Suns. He is a restricted free agent, so the Suns can match any offer for the young small forward. The Suns recently signed Ricky Rubio and sent Josh Jackson to the Memphis Grizzlies, opening up a need to retain Oubre.
The Suns have improved their roster, and now need to hang on to as much of their young talent as they can. Once the Rubio contract is up, they will have Devin Booker, DeAndre Ayton, and Mikal Bridges as their core, all 25 years old or younger. Add Oubre to the mix (he would be 26 by then), and the Suns have a legitimate core with high playoff potential.
It may not be the splash that fans want. Chaos is fun in the NBA, after all. But it will be the best move for both the Suns and Oubre.
4. Marcus Morris – Dallas Mavericks
It has been speculated that the Mavericks are eyeing Morris and Danny Green to flesh out their young roster. Morris would be a great fit for a good price to go alongside Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis.
Morris is a tough player that can guard multiple positions while also contributing quality minutes on offense. He was a huge part of the success of the Boston Celtics in previous years and could be the piece that puts the Mavericks into playoff contention once again.
The Mavericks have two roster spots open, and Morris is one of the biggest names left. Getting him late in the game would be a relative steal, and could be a great deal for both parties.
3. Danny Green – Toronto Raptors
There’s another free agent on this list that will likely decide between the Toronto Raptors and the Los Angeles Lakers. In fact, that player is a teammate of Green’s. However, whatever decision that other player makes, it potentially drives Green right back to Toronto.
There has been heavy speculation that Green — and almost every other free agent on the market — will end up on the Lakers. But they can’t sign everyone.
Kawhi to Lakers rumblings getting stronger & stronger. Iguodala likely to join Lakers after Memphis buyout. Danny Green & Seth Curry in Lakers’ scope. Lakers offered Rondo vet minimum & 24 hours to decide. Lakers on verge of building powerhouse.
— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) July 1, 2019
If superstar Kawhi Leonard does decide to go to Los Angeles, there won’t be much room to sign Green. In that case, Toronto is already a great fit and they could sign him to the biggest deal of any team. Other teams like the Dallas Mavericks will surely be in play, but that’s predicated on Leonard leaving. If Leonard returns to Toronto, it makes sense for Green to want to run it back with his longtime teammate.
If his decision is based on Leonard at all, then a return to Toronto could be in the works.
2. DeMarcus Cousins – Los Angeles Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers wanted a new big three through free agency, and they’ll get it. It just won’t be the one that they hoped for (but more on that later).
DeMarcus Cousins has had a rough NBA career thus far. From being stranded on the Sacramento Kings to flourishing with the New Orleans Pelicans to signing a small deal with the Golden State Warriors after an Achilles injury to having “no market” this offseason, it has been a rollercoaster ride. Now, that ride may finally stop.
Cousins was one of the top centers in the NBA before his injury. When he returned, he still looked like a solid player that just needed more time to get back into shape. Then, he went down with a quad injury that nearly ended his season. Now, he’s having trouble finding a suitor at all.
Enter the Lakers. The Lakers have a ton of cap space to play with and are in need of virtually every position outside of the two forward spots. They don’t just want role players, though, as they have an unquenchable thirst for star power. A healthy Cousins could still be a top-level center in the league, creating a low-risk-high-reward situation for the Lakers. It has been speculated that any deal for Cousins will likely be relatively small, potentially a mid-level exception or lower.
If the signing works out, they’ve got a triumvirate of dominance. If it doesn’t, they at least have more depth and a good big man to go to on occasion.
1. Kawhi Leonard – Toronto Raptors
Considered by some to be the new king of the NBA and by far the biggest name left in free agency, Leonard will return to the Toronto Raptors next season. Though a team-up with LeBron James and Anthony Davis on the Los Angeles Lakers seems enticing, Leonard will pass up the opportunity in hopes to bring another title to Canada.
The move makes sense for several reasons. First, a two-year deal to stay with the Raptors will maximize Leonard’s monetary intake over the course of his career. He can hit free agency in two years with 10+ year veteran status, qualifying him for a mega-deal. At the moment, the Raptors also have better coaching and a deeper roster than the Lakers. Sure, the Lakers have much more star power, but Leonard won a title in Toronto thanks to the quality depth of the Raptors.
It also seems unlikely Leonard would want to share the spotlight with two other superstars when he just won a title without a superstar sidekick. Leonard has turned into one of the most loved players in the league over the course of the last year, and he would throw that all away if he joined the Lakers.
Of course, this is not ruling out an eventual signing in Los Angeles. Once the short-term deal in Toronto is up, it would make much more sense for Leonard to return home. James would be toward the end of his illustrious career, giving Leonard the keys to be the biggest star on the team. By then, he would be signing likely the final major deal of his career, and where better to ride off into the sunset than Southern California in your hometown?
Laker fans will have to stay patient, though, as Leonard will try to retain his title as “King in the North” next season.
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